Reflections on My 2014 Reading

So yesterday, I finished up my list of everything I read in 2014. It was quite an undertaking, something I’ve actually been working on since October. While compiling this list, I found myself struck by quite a few things (I read THAT in 2014, instead of 2013? Wow we didn’t get that many issues of Saga this year, did we), but there were a few things that grabbed me the most. They were…

1. Equal love between formats- I separated my list between books (both paper and ebook), audiobooks, graphic novels, short ebooks, literary magazines and comic books. One thing I found kind of funny that between books, audiobooks, and graphic novels, I unknowingly read about the same amount in each category- roughly forty. This wasn’t really a shock as much as something that I found to be a neat coincidence.

2.ย More love for Nonfiction- The vast majority of what I read is fiction, and will probably always be fiction, but the fact that I went from reading only one nonfiction book in 2013 to reading thirteen works of nonfiction in 2014 is a pretty significant increase, even if the end number isn’t hugely impressive. I think it’s because for such a long time, I always equated nonfiction with “slow,” which is totally not the case. There’s a wide variety of pacing with nonfiction books, just like fiction. It’s all about finding what you’re in the mood for. In fact, three of my favorite reads of last year were nonficiton: Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan, and Wild by Cheryl Strayed, three incredibly different (and incredibly good) titles. I hope this increase in interest continues into 2015.

3. Reading more graphic novels/trade paperbacks- Last year I read twenty-six graphic novels. This year it was forty-three. That’s a big shift! This more or less continues my trend of reading more comics, as well as my new found trend of reading more trade paperbacks versus single issues. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always read plenty of comics in single issue form, especially the ones that I’m already following that way. But comics that feature more complex storylines (especially when combined with a less consistent release schedule), often feel more satisfying when read in big chunks. Oh, and it’s usually cheaper that way.

4. MVPs-ย The authors I found myself revisiting the most this year rank as follows. I read four works by Kelley Armstrong (three books, one short ebook), Tamora Pierce (four books), Brandon Sanderson (one book, three audiobooks), Agatha Christie (four audiobooks), Gail Simone (four graphic novels), Brain Azzarello (four graphic novels), and Marjorie M. Liu (four graphic novels). I read five works by Laura Lam (one novel, four short ebooks), and Scott Snyder (five graphic novels). And my MVP of the year was Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant. I read two books, listened to four audiobooks, and read one short ebook. That’s a grand total of seven works!

4. Weakness as a Reader in 2014– I’m not a book blogger any more, but I do still read them from time to time. This is the time a year when people might post a master list of what they’ve read, or a list of their favorites. One thing I’m conscious of is when women writers are underrepresented on one of these lists. I don’t think people need to be 50/50 when it comes to gender representation (especially not regular readers, as opposed to book bloggers). I’m not (excluding the single issue comics, I read 74 works written by women, 62 works written by men, and 8 that were a collaborative work somehow between men and women), but it strikes me strange that some readers seem to go out of their way, consciously or subconsciously, to read only works by men.

At the same time, I don’t feel very comfortable complaining about that, because you could look my list and say that it looks like I go out of my way to read mostly works by white people. Excluding collaborative projects, I barely squeak over a dozen, and that could be better. So for one of my New Year’s Resolutions, I’d like to make it an effort to read more fantastic works by POC authors. I usually make a goal to read a hundred books in a year, so if twenty of those are by POC, then that’s an improvement. If I read more (which I usually do), then I should increase that number. This will include reading work by authors I already enjoy (both NK Jemisin and YS Lee have new books coming out this year), as well as finding new writers that I can add to my list of authors to watch. I consider variety to be an important part of anyone’s reading diet, so I’m happy to add a little more variety to mine.

Anything you noticed about the books you read this year? Do you have any reading goals for 2015?

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12 thoughts on “Reflections on My 2014 Reading

  1. Hmmm..well what i do notice is that i find myself drawn to YA novels and i know i want to stop! Especially since i just asked for a reading challenge! Haha. My goal for 2015 is to read more classic novels and open my mind up a bit ( though i dont know how successful i will be at that)

    • Yay for more variety! There’s nothing wrong with reading a bunch of YA, but it can be easy to burn yourself out on a genre. Let me know if you need recommendation for classic novels. It’s not my forte, but I’ve read quite a few ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Anything by Jane Austen is always good- Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and the often overlooked Persuasion especially. Jayne Eyre is also a classic romance for a reason.

        For mysteries/thriller, Wilkie Collins’s The Women in White is often overlooked and so worth your time. Collins was a contemporary of Dickens, and incredibly popular during his time.

        For adventure, The Count of Monte Cristo is LONG but reads very fast for such a weighty tome.

        For fantasy, I find Peter Pen to hold up very well over time, as does The Hobbit if you haven’t read that already.

        For regular fiction, I find O Pioneers by Willa Cather to be really entertaining, and with they would assign it in schools as opposed to My Antionia, which is good but I don’t like on the same level.

        For science fiction, there are plenty of more “modern classics” worth your time. 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and The Handmaid’s Tale are prefect examples of classic dystopias.

        For horror, Dracula. Slow first chapter, but turns into a page turner after a while.

        Pick and chose any that may sound appealing to you!

      • Honestly,…all of these sound appealing!! Especially Jane Austin since she is a well known author! Thank you so much for those recommendations and as soon as im done with the current book that i am reading i will tear away at some of these goodies! If you need any recommendations, please allow me to return the favor ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Seanan McGuire is my MVP as well: three books between her and “Mira Grant,” and then a whole helluva lot of short fiction by her…. this year, I found her fiction to be greatly comforting to read. That doesn’t mean I labeled everything with five stars, and I’ve still got stuff on the shelf and my Kindle to read (the second Velveteen collection, and INDEXING), but still.

    Reading goals…. nope. Manage my comics a bit better, and to rotate more evenly between Kindle, brand new physical books, and Paperback Swap books. This year I’d get stuck in a rut and the rest of the stuff would languish more, which made me feel guilty.

    I’m still seriously considering only purchasing books by favorite authors this year, with maybe one or two allowances for new-to-me authors who MUST be breakouts (like Katherine Addison in 2014 and Ann Leckie in 2013). I may use my birthday and Christmas to get new-to-me authors, you know?

    • Seanan McGuire’s output is really impressive. From interviews that I’ve listened to, it seems less like she’s a super fast writer, and more like she’s super consistent. Seems to be the same with Brandon Sanderson, from what I’ve heard. Perhaps that’s the secret to writing a lot of books? Just keep going?

      As for book purchases, I’ve get most of mine through the library and with audible credits. For paper books, I do end up buying ones that I’ve enjoyed, but usually used or through paperbackswap. It makes me feel like I’m not supporting authors as much as I should be wow hardbacks are expensive. Also, it keeps that TBR from getting too scary. I mean, it’s pretty scary now…

      • I think it’s true: just keep writing. But I do know authors who’ve tried to publish multiple books in a year and the quality suffered. Patricia Briggs comes to mind, and I worry about Ann Aguirre: sometimes I think she can do it no problem, but then I read something that makes me question that. So I think it’s hit and miss, and I think too it depends on how much lead time you give yourself. But I do think that’s the key: JUST KEEP WRITING. Whether it’s getting published or not is beside the point. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        I don’t even want to KNOW how big my TBR is. I’m pretty sure my hubby would ban the acquisition of ANY books if the true number were revealed. ๐Ÿ™‚

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